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Friday, June 28, 2019

Elijah Craig NAS Small Batch, current version

Alas, The Present. The end. For now?

A year after removing the 12 year old age statement, Heaven Hill gave Elijah Craig a whole new outfit, further distancing it from its previous forms. Gone was the dark old whisky in the bottom-heavy bottle, here was something taller, lighter, thinner and younger.

This was known as Sample B in the Taste Off, or whisky 3 in my home lineup. It finished dead last among the group, and next-to-last in my own notes. I lined it up next to the pre-fire EC12 for the tasters to see how far apart the whiskies were.

During my blind tasting, I somehow guessed the three 12 year old ECs correctly, but got the two NASes mixed up. I rated this higher than the previous NAS, while also thinking this one was that one. I wouldn't buy either again.

To recap again, I tasted this bourbon blindly, then did another tasting when I knew what was in my glass. I've listed both sets of notes below. The final rating is weighted heavily towards the blind tasting experience.

Distiller: Heaven Hill
Brand: Elijah Craig
Region: Bardstown, Kentucky
Distillery: DSP-KY-1
Type: Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Age: no age statement
Bottled: likely 2018 or 2019
Alcohol by Volume: 47%

When I didn't know what I was drinking

The flattest of the noses. Corn syrup, almonds and brown rice. Cherry candy and BBQ-flavored peanuts. “Black & White cigarettes on the casino floor.”

Halvah, black pepper and nuts start off the palate. Then it shifts to a weird gear: very earthy and very sweet, with a definite paint note.

The finish is tannic and drying on the first two sips, then gets tooth-rottingly sweet and tangy in subsequent sips.

When I DID know what I was drinking

The nose is plain and sugary. Berry jam and barrel char. Almond extract, flowers and vinegar.

The palate is bland, nutty, sweet and peppery.

The finish is nutty, sweet and acidic.

The palate was odd during the first tasting, then boring on the second tasting, but the nose was consistent. It's probably not the worst thing in the extensive Heaven Hill portfolio, but it's a damned shame that's the best thing I can say about it. Six of the tasters from the group ranked this EC first or second, so there are still folks who'd enjoy it. And its score was so close to that of the back-label-12yo that scores from one more taster might have flipped their overall rankings.

But for palates like mine, Elijah Craig Small Batch is just a cocktail bourbon now. I wish it were better. I went into this experiment hoping I'd like the whiskey. Instead, I'll hide remainder in a few old fashioneds. Not all in one night. Probably.

Availability -

Rating - 75

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